RFGWG terms of reference

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Terms of Reference – March 2012

Table of contents

THE RECREATIONAL FISHING GRANTS WORKING GROUP (RFGWG)
1 Definitions
2 Terms of Reference
3 Membership
3.1 Members
3.2 Chairperson
4 Member Nomination, Appointment, Reappointment and Probity Checks
4.1 Term of Appointment
4.2 Resignations
4.3 Termination
4.4 Vacancies
4.5 Remuneration
5 Operations
5.1 Attendance at meetings
5.2 Meeting agenda
5.3 Conduct of meetings
5.5 Meeting outcomes
5.6 Quorum
5.7 Consensus decision making
5.8 Validity of Decisions
5.9 Proxies
6 Confidentiality
7 Conflict of Interest
8 Presentations to the Working Group
9 Executive Support
9.1 Funding
9.2 Performance Measures of Working Group
9.3 Review of Effectiveness
9.4 Publication of these Terms of Reference

1. Definitions

"The department" means the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport  and Resources (DEDJTR) former Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI).

"Working Group" means the Recreational Fishing Grants Working Group.

"Guidelines" refers to the Victorian Government Guidelines for the Appointment and Remuneration of Part-Time Non-Executive Directors of State Government Boards and Members of Statutory Bodies and Advisory Committees.

"Minister" means the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security (who is responsible for fisheries).

"Member" means a person appointed to the Working Group by the Minister.

"RFL" means the Victorian Recreational Fishery Licence.

2. Terms of Reference

Introduction:
As an important part of its Plan for Agriculture, the Victorian Government is implementing improved consultation arrangements to assist in the future management of the community's fisheries resources, with a strong focus on providing a broader range of opportunities for engagement and greater transparency and accountability in decision making for all parties.

These arrangements include clear processes to provide greater opportunities for recreational fishers to have a say in setting priorities for the expenditure of the Recreational Fishing Licence revenue, including:

  • opportunities for recreational fishers and the department to engage through Regional Roundtable to be held in each major region around Victoria on an annual basis, with participation generally based on a local group of fishers who collectively cover the range of fishing interests and matters in each region; 
  • opportunities for recreational fishers and the department to engage on strategic level matters through a State-wide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum to be held on a quarterly basis, with participation generally based on a group of fishers who collectively cover the broad range of fishing types and interests across Victoria; 
  • opportunities for local recreational fishers and the department to engage in discussions about 'grass roots' matters on a needs basis; and 
  • continuing to operate the Recreational Fishing Grants Working Group, comprising a broad range of recreational fishing interests, to provide advice on the expenditure of all RFL revenue.

This document details the working terms of reference and governance arrangements as a working draft for the operation of the Recreational Fishing Grants Working Group. This document will be updated by the department over time, taking account of the ongoing operation of the Recreational Fishing Licence, Ministerial guidance on the overall priorities for the expenditure of the RFL revenue, and any improvements to the governance arrangements for the expenditure of the RFL revenue (including implementing actions in response to independent audit reports).

The department is continuing to work with the State-wide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum to provide advice to the Minister on the broad priorities for future investment relevant to improving opportunities for recreational fishing for Victorian fishers. This includes conducting approximately 12 regional forums annually to seek ideas from local fishers and surveys of RFL licence holders. These processes will assist the development of a periodic investment plan (e.g. for a period of 3 to 5 years) for the orderly and targeted expenditure of RFL revenue.

The outcomes will be used to set the broad priorities for the Working Group to provide advice on applications for grants from RFL revenue to fund projects that will improve recreational fishing opportunities for Victorians into the future.

There has been a progressive roll-out of fisheries management plans across Victoria, which are focused on enhancing recreational fishing opportunities. These actions will also be key drivers of future investment considerations of the Working Group.

Responsibilities:
The role of the Working Group is to provide advice to the Minister on the expenditure of all RFL Trust Account funds, taking account of the Working Group's Terms of Reference, established commitments to fund specified programs, management plan commitments relevant to recreational fishing, and any Ministerial directions.

All expenditure of RFL revenue must be directly relevant to recreational fishing.

The Working Group's advice should take account of strategic opportunities in allocating funds over subsequent years. It may be appropriate to allocate only a portion of available funding in a given year. In particular, it is expected there will be significant opportunities for larger investments following the regional forums and surveys of RFL licence holders that may change previous priorities.

The Working Group is to provide advice on:

  1. The eligibility and assessment criteria for the small grants sub-program;
  2. The eligibility and assessment criteria for the large grants sub-program;
  3. Indicative amounts of funding to be allocated to the small and large grants sub-programs;
  4. Ranking or assessment of the proposals under the small, large and commissioning grants sub-programs;
  5. Written feedback to successful and unsuccessful grant applicants, including constructive guidance for any future applications; and
  6. The review of milestones of projects receiving RFL funding.

The department will be responsible for:

  1. Providing executive support for the Working Group;
  2. Conducting broader consultation processes with Victorian recreational fishers, as generally described in the Introduction section above;
  3. Establishing and maintaining a website to help recreational fishers identify local and state-wide funding priorities and providing information on programs funded by the RFGP;
  4. Formulating proposals and liaising with the Minister after consulting the Recreational Fishing Grants Working Group regarding projects under the commissioning sub-program of the RFGP, which are large priority projects generally in excess of $100,000.
  5. Managing and administering commissioned projects in accordance with Victorian Government policies on purchasing;
  6. Administering the annual call for project proposals and evaluation against established criteria to ensure compliance with public accountability standards; and
  7. Setting and monitoring milestones for all projects funded.

The Working Group is an advisory committee. The department will undertake any functions in respect to entering into agreements or employing staff or consultants. The Working Group is not authorised to directly expend any RFL Trust Account funds.

The Working Group is subject to the general direction of the Minister. The Working Group is to provide its recommendations to the Minister. Upon written request, the Minister may direct the Working Group is to reconsider any advice and request consideration of any relevant factors. The Minister retains full responsibility and discretion for all funding decisions.

3. Membership

3.1 Members

The Working Group is an ad hoc expert panel (Group D3 organisation1) established for a limited time period to undertake a specific task.
Working Group membership will comprise eight people (plus an independent Chairperson) who collectively can provide a range of knowledge, experience and views from across the State covering:

  • Ocean, coastal, estuarine, freshwater native fish and salmonid recreational fisheries; 
  • Port Phillip Bay, South West, North East, North West, East Gippsland, West Gippsland regions; 
  • One person nominated by VRFish to provide advice that reflects the views of the organisations affiliated with VRFish and the VRFish Board; and 
  • One person involved in the recreational fishing industry to provide advice that reflects the views of recreational fishers as identified by persons involved in the Victorian recreational fishing business sector.

General selection criteria
All Working Group members must be Victorian residents at the time of their application/nomination, and throughout the term of their appointment (as demonstrated by a driver's licence or other recognised document).

Specific selection criteria

  1. Practical knowledge, skills and experience in one or more of Victoria's marine or inland recreational fisheries;
  2. Understanding of the type of projects that could improve opportunities for recreational fishing in Victoria;
  3. Demonstrated capacity, experience and willingness to undertake two-way communication with a broad range of recreational fishing stakeholders;
  4. Commitment to work on a co-operative basis with other Working Group members, including respecting the views of other members;
  5. Understanding of general management practices, such as business planning, financial accountability, public reporting and ethics; and
  6. A working understanding of Victorian fisheries legislation.

3.2 Chairperson

The Chairperson of the Working Group will be an independent person appointed by the Minister.

The Chairperson shall be a person who has a good working knowledge of, and expertise in, recreational fishing and related matters, as well as governance processes relevant to the expenditure of public funds.

The Chairperson's position will be a non-voting role and will be responsible for:

  • bringing focus to the proceedings of Working Group meetings; 
  • facilitating the achievement of informed and agreed positions; 
  • reporting regularly, or when requested by the Minister, on the operation of the Working Group and/or the results of its deliberations; and 
  • ensuring that the Working Group is providing timely high quality advice in a form that satisfies the Minister.

The Chairperson is the spokesperson for the Working Group to the Minister and the department, and may represent the Working Group at public functions or elsewhere when requested by the department. Subject to confidentiality requirements, the Chairperson will be the only member able to make public statements about the deliberations of the Working Group, after consultation with the department.

4. Standard Procedure for Member Nomination, Appointment, Reappointment and Probity Checks

The process of seeking the nomination of members of the Working Group is to be conducted by the Fisheries Division of the department (i.e. The Victorian Fisheries Authority) through an open expression of interest process.

A person nominated for appointment as a member of the Working Group is not a member of the Working Group until appointed by the Minister.

A member of the Working Group is eligible for reappointment for a maximum of two cumulative terms, not exceeding six years.

Probity checks will be undertaken for all appointments and reappointments as per the Guidelines, unless otherwise advised by the Minister.

4 .1 Term of Appointment

Members and the Chairperson are appointed by the Minister to the Working Group for a term of office of up to three years, or as the Minister determines, and may be eligible for reappointment.

4.2 Resignations

A member or chairperson of the Working Group may resign in writing addressed to the Minister.

4.3 Termination

The appointment of a member or the chairperson may be terminated in writing by the Minister at any time.

4.4 Vacancies

The office of a Working Group member or Chairperson becomes vacant if:

  • The person resigns under Section 4.2; 
  • The person is removed from office under Section 4.3; 
  • The person dies or in the opinion of the Minister becomes incapable of performing his/her duties; 
  • The person becomes a bankrupt or a person disqualified from acting as a director or acting in the management of a company; 
  • The person fails to attend 3 consecutive meetings (without a valid reason accepted by the Chairperson before a meeting; or in the case of the Chairperson accepted by the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority); 
  • The person fails to attend 75 per cent of meetings over any given 12 month period (without a valid reason accepted by the Chairperson before a meeting; or in the case of the Chairperson accepted by the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority); 
  • In the case of the VRFish nominee, the VRFish Chairperson advises the Minister and their nominated member, in writing, that the body or organisation wishes to nominate a replacement member.

Upon a vacancy occurring in the office of a member the vacancy may be filled with a suitable replacement to be appointed by the Minister.

The Minister may appoint any person to fill a vacant position on the Working Group that arises during any three year term, subject to having regard to the General and Specific Selection Criteria shown in section 3.1

The Minister may have regard to any preceding Expression of Interest application received in response to the Standard Procedure for Member Nominations as shown in section 4.

Members appointed to fill a vacancy will be appointed for a period not exceeding that for members appointed via the Standard Procedure.

4.5 Remuneration

The Working Group is classified as a Group D, Band 3 organisation under the Guidelines.  Members, unless an employee of the public service, are entitled to remuneration (if any) fixed by the Minister.

Expenses will be paid in accordance with rates that apply to employees of the department for the provision of allowances for travelling and personal expenses.

5. Operations

5.1 Attendance at meetings

Members are expected to attend all meetings of the Working Group, given the importance of the group's role in providing advice on the expenditure of RFL revenue to improve opportunities for Victorian recreational fishers.

Any member who is unable to attend a meeting is expected to notify the Chairperson as soon as practical (or in the case of the Chairperson notify the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority).

Refer to section 4.4 for further information about the effect of non-attendance at Working Group meetings.

5.2 Meeting agenda

It is the responsibility of the departmental person providing administrative support services to the Working Group to ensure that agendas and papers for meetings are circulated in a timely manner prior to the meeting. Ten working days will be used as the benchmark for normal business papers, including all grant applications, noting the operation of SmartyGrants on-line grant application system.

5.3 Conduct of meetings

The Working Group will meet as often as required as determined by the Chairperson in consultation with members and the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority. Meetings will be based on a forward-agenda.

The Working Group will determine its own meeting procedures, and may deal with matters out-of-session, within the context of its Terms of Reference.

Meetings may be conducted in a manner determined by the Chairperson subject to these Terms of Reference or any direction given by the Minister or the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority. The Chairperson will seek to ensure that every member has adequate opportunity to participate in the discussions on each item.

If the Chairperson is absent, or the office of Chairperson is vacant, the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority (or nominee) shall preside at that meeting.

Meetings are generally to be held in DEDJTR's offices at 1 Spring St, Melbourne. However, the Working Group is encouraged to hold one meeting per year in a major regional centre in Victoria (relevant to recreational fishing).

5.4 Project Assessment

All projects will be assessed and scored against agreed criteria to ensure fairness. Aggregate assessment scores will provide a basis for preliminary ranking of applications. However, assessment scores will not be the sole basis for decisions as additional information, critical evaluation and informed debate at Working Group meetings may result in reassessment of relative merits and changes to the ranking of applications.

5.5 Meeting outcomes

Meeting outcomes describing the Working Group's advice (rather than verbatim minutes) are to be recorded for each meeting. These will be recorded live on-screen during Working Group meetings.

The Chairperson is responsible for authorising the despatch of the outcomes for each meeting to Working Group members (via email), the Minister and the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority as soon as practical after each meeting.

5.6 Quorum

A quorum is constituted by a majority of the members of the Working Group for the time being holding office.

No meeting shall commence or continue unless a quorum is present (i.e. five members).

5.7 Consensus decision making

The Working Group is to prepare its advice through consensus. However, where a consensus view cannot be reached, minority or dissenting views will be minuted on request.

5.8 Validity of Decisions

Advice of the Working Group is not invalidated by:
(a) a vacancy in the office of any member; or
(b) any defect or irregularity in the appointment of a member.

5.9 Proxies

Proxies or deputies for members are not permitted.

6. Confidentiality

The deliberations of the Working Group must be treated confidentially in order to provide a forum for independent advice and debate. Members will be able to discuss with their respective groups or organisations matters before the Working Group that are not of a confidential nature, but must not discuss any deliberations of the Working Group or circulate any meeting agendas, minutes, papers or other materials publicly without the consent of the department.

The matter of confidentiality will rest not just with the individual member but also with the administration and membership of their respective groups and organisations.

The final outcomes for each Working Group meeting will be published online, following endorsement by the Chairperson as a valid record of a meeting, and acceptance by the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority that the record of a meeting is consistent with the Working Group's Terms of Reference and satisfy relevant Victorian Government publication policies.

Working Group agenda papers (including grant applications) shall not be circulated by any member to a person or organisation who is not a member of the Working Group.

7. Conflict of Interest

Members must be aware of the need to manage all genuine conflicts of interests and be aware of the possibility that an interest they may have could raise the perception of a conflict of interest.

A member who has a direct or indirect pecuniary or other relevant interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered at a meeting of the Working Group, and whose interest appears to raise a conflict with the proper performance of the member's duties in relation to the consideration of the matter must, as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to the member's knowledge, disclose the nature of the interest to the Chairperson.

The Chairperson at a meeting at which a declaration of an interest is made shall cause the declaration to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

A disclosure by a member at a meeting that the member is a member, or is in the employment of a specified company or other body, or is a partner, or is in the employment, of a specified person, or  has some other specified interest relating to a specified company or other body or to a specified person, is a sufficient disclosure of the nature of the interest in any matter relating to that company or other body or to that person which may arise after the date of the disclosure and which is required to be disclosed.

After a member has disclosed the nature of an interest in any matter, the member must not, if the Chairperson so determines, be present during any deliberation of the Working Group with respect to the matter, or take part in any decision of the Working Group with respect to the matter.

If the Chairperson vacates the meeting due to the deliberation of the Working Group on a matter for which the Chairperson has disclosed the nature of any interest, the Executive Officer of the Working Group shall act as Chairperson of the Working Group until the Chairperson returns to the meeting.

A contravention of this clause does not invalidate any decision of the Working Group.

8. Presentations to the Working Group

The Chairperson may invite grant applicants to give brief oral presentations to the Working Group on their applications or progress on the implementation and outcomes of an approved application, in order to inform the Working Group's deliberations (the department will work with the Working Group to develop reasonable criteria in this regard). However, grant applicants are not to be present during any discussions by the Working Group about the merits (or otherwise) of a project.

The Working Group Executive Officer is to be present at all times in meetings for the purpose of recording outcomes, but is not authorised to comment on any applications, unless so requested by the Chairperson.

9. Executive Support

The Victorian Fisheries Authority will provide secretarial and executive support services to the Working Group. This support includes the recording of meeting outcomes and all coordination and communication activities related to Working Group meetings.

9.1 Funding

Funding for the Working Group and its support will be provided by the department from the Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Account.

9.2 Performance Measures of Working Group

Decisions made and advice given in a timely manner. All advice provided with a rigorous rationale of the basis for the advice.

9.3 Review of Effectiveness

The Working Group will advise the Executive Director The Victorian Fisheries Authority annually on any suggested improvements to the operation of the new arrangements for the disbursement of recreational fishing licence revenue.

9.4 Publication of these Terms of Reference

These Terms of Reference will be published by the department on the Recreational Fishing Licence webpage.

1. Guidelines for the Appointment and Remuneration of Part-Time Non-Executive Directors of State Government Boards and Members of Statutory Bodies and Advisory Committees (Revised July 2010).